Cauliflower cheese is an all time favourite of mine. It’s simple to make, using seasonal steamed white cauliflower as the base. I don’t really get into making traditional béchamel style white sauces made from white flour, butter, cream and milk. My white sauce is dead easy to make. It’s basically made from fresh and creamy ricotta blended with milk and a hint of nutmeg in my Vitamix and it gives a perfect result every time. For a richer flavour you can throw in a handful of grated Parmesan or pecorino during the blending process. Make sure to purchase your ricotta from a good supplier as the quality can vary quite radically. What I also love to do is combine the cauliflower with some leek and sometimes even roasted cinnamon pumpkin which enhances the flavour. (see notes below for white sauce options inc. Paleo and dairy free ).
What’s good about it:
Ricotta contains protein to help build and maintain muscle, as well as nourish the immune system. It’s also a good source of calcium for strong bones and tryptophan which is an essential amino acid that your body uses to make serotonin which can help you relax and beat stress. Cauliflower is rich in sulphur that works as an anti-inflammatory that can support digestion and boost your immune system.
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 leek, washed and sliced
500 g (17 1/2 oz) ricotta
180 – 250 ml (6 1/4 oz – 8 3/4 oz) milk (your choice dairy, soy, rice, almond)
30 g (1 oz) grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Pinch of nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas 4).
Cut cauliflower into flowerets and place into a large pot.
Add 1/2 cup (4 1/2 oz) water, cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes or until just tender, but not over cooked.
Saute the leek for 5 minutes over a medium heat in a little olive oil until soft.
Place the cauliflower and leek into an oven proof baking dish.
Combine ricotta, half of the milk and a little nutmeg and blend until smooth.
Add more milk until you achieve a smooth cream like consistency.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and leek then sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
To make a dairy free / Paleo style white sauce it is great to use a creamy style of milk such as almond, coconut or organic soy.
Saute 1-2 leeks until soft, combine into a blender with 80 g raw cashew nuts and 500 ml your choice of dairy free milk + a little nutmeg.
Vegetables help to thicken the sauce and so do white beans such as cannelinni as an option to cashew.
Pour over the sauce, scatter with some ground almonds for texture and bake as required. Delicious !
I also love to add some roasted cinnamon pumpkin chunks and combine with the cauliflower and leek before baking.